Battling jet lag and homesickness, I was struggling to find the motivation to return to work for the first time in 18 days. Knowing that I didn't have much choice in the matter, I put on the uniform and forced my flight attendant smile as I headed for the airport.
It wasn't all bad though. I was bound for Hong Kong, where I've been many times but had never actually left the airport. The thought of a new destination kept me going as I continued to feel sorry for myself. Much to my relief, I had been blessed with a great crew. Friendly and energetic, they kept me distracted and as reluctant as I was to enjoy myself (I'm admittedly the most stubborn person that I know), I couldn't help but to have a fun flight. By the time that we landed, I was barely conscious. It was late at night in the time zone that I was currently adjusted to, and as some of the crew made plans to head to the city, I made a beeline for my bed... which, may I say, was amazingly comfortable. In fact, the hotel itself was probably one of the nicest among the A380 destinations. I woke up 6 hours later at 4 am, unable to fall back asleep. I spent a couple of hours flipping through the TV channels before heading downstairs for breakfast. Normally I sway away from hotel breakfasts in an attempt to save money, but deepening my love for this hotel was the free buffet in the morning. I loaded my plate with food from all corners of the world... bacon and eggs, dim sum, and fresh fruit. It was there that I met up with some of the other crew, including Daniela from Slovakia and Mats from Holland. They were two of the most optimistic and fun people that I've encountered in quite some time, and together with 2 crew from business class we set out for a day of adventure. Our first stop was Ngong Ping. We planned to take a cable car up the mountainside for spectacular views and to see the Tian Tan Buddha, one of the largest in the world. We hadn't done our research and arrived to find that we'd arrived an hour before the cable car began running. We occupied our time by wandering a few of the shops in the area. Mats and myself ventured to a park where we watched several people practicing Tai Chi.
As one old man took a break, we politely asked if we could take a photo of the large sword in his hand. To our surprise, he placed it in Mats hand and began to show us a few poses. We giggled and snapped photos as he encouraged us. We chatted with the man for awhile, surprised at how friendly he was. We realized that we hadn't seen the others in awhile and said goodbye to our new friend as we set out to find them. We spotted them at the entrance of the cable car gates, waiting in a long line that had formed since we'd left. We joined them and collectively decided to spend the extra money to ride in the glass bottom cable car. When it was our turn the 5 of us hopped into our car, along with a lady from Germany and a man from Mexico. As we left the comfort and low altitude of the platform, we we suspended high above the blue waters below. What a spectacular view! To our left was the skyline of super high apartment buildings that lined the island, and to our right was the airport where we watched huge planes taking off below us. It was a long ride, taking nearly half an hour until we finally reached Ngong Ping Village. On top of the mountain we were met with souvenir shops, an entire store dedicated to chopsticks, and in westernized fashion, a Starbucks.
We took photos as we walked down the road towards the massive Buddha in the distance. Once we'd reached the bottom, we were slightly appalled at the number of steps we'd have to walk up to see it. Complaining and feeling out of shape, we made our way to the top, where we saw even more beautiful views and took even more photos.
Once we'd seen it, there really wasn't much else to do, so we decided to catch the cable car back. Mats and I had once again separated from the others, but we wanted to go to the city anyways, so we rode the car back down and caught the metro to the Hong Kong station. We emerged to find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the tall buildings and big city chaos. I was surprised to discover how multi-cultural the city was. We saw many Westerners and the only thing that gave us away as tourists was the large camera that I was toting through the streets. We wandered aimlessly, finding ourselves lost but content. We rode the elevator to the top floor of a super tall building in hopes of a window with a better view. We were out of luck, met only by offices and strange looks. It was worth a shot! We saw various sea creatures for sale in seafood stalls, wondering why anybody would want to eat a blowfish or turtle. It had been many hours since breakfast and we had worked up quite the appetite despite the smells of fish and traumatizing displays of meat hanging in the shops. Too tired to be adventurous and seek out a good Chinese restaurant, we opted for Subway. Fresh, healthy, cheap, and familiar. We dined along the river, watching the boats sail by in a rare quiet area of the bustling city. Once we'd finished eating we decided to make our way back to the metro station, where we hopped on a train and headed back to our hotel. It had been a great day, but I was sleepy!! I managed to get in a decent nap before getting ready for the flight back to Dubai. I'd had a lot of fun and didn't particularly want to return.
The flight back was long and felt as though it would never end, but the crew kept me going. I can't thank them enough for changing my attitude and helping me to actually enjoy myself during what would normally be a tough couple of days.
I'm feeling a lot better now, and the initial homesickness wave is passing. Thank you all for your kind words the last few days! You make me feel so much less lonely!